Friday, September 30, 2016

What I Bought - 9/27/2016

Five new comics came out for me this week. I had three the first three weeks combined, two of which we covered on Wednesday. Today is for the other one, plus one comic left over from August. These came in with an order I made from the shop I most frequently buy from now, along with a lot of odds and ends. Which are my favorite kinds of orders to make. Last issue I needed of Weird World of Jack Staff, last issue I needed of Joe Kubert Presents, last few issues of the Len Kaminski Creeper series, majority of a couple of other brief series from late '90s/early 2000s Marvel.

Wynonna Earp #7, by Beau Smith (writer), Chris Evenhuis (artist), Jay Fotos (colorist), Christa Miesner (letterer) - Nothing against Evenhuis' cover, but I couldn't pass up Wynonna walking away smirking with her prize from the shooting gallery.

Wynonna demands some time off, so Agent Dolls gives her a week's vacation. Valdez asks to come along, and Wynonna lacking any wheels of her own, agrees. They lend a hand to a lady who then offers to let them stay at her ranch. Meanwhile, the Del Rey Cartel is preparing to free its imprisoned members from the Black Badge division's custody.

It's mostly a set-up issue, putting pieces in place, both for the impending assault on the Black Badge compound, and whatever will end up happening at that ranch. It has to rely on the little flourishes to carry it, and there are enough of those. I appreciated the insights into Valdez' character. Not just the stuff about how she got her tattoo and its significance, but the fact she bought herself a jeep at some point in the past and has carefully maintained it ever since. Or the fact she's seen Thelma and Louise. Those sorts of things can say something about a character in a more natural way then long expository paragraphs.

There are times Smith tries too hard to be glib and it just comes off clunky. Valdez commenting about a holiday, then clarifying the vacation, not the cowboy, confused the heck out of me. And there's a point where Wynonna pistol whips a biker and tells him to "Heel!" but in the same breath explains she means the one with two e's, not the one with an "a" (heal). Throws me off because I snap out of the story with how awkward it is. Some of the one-liners land. Valdez has a good one about cholesterol, like bullets, has little effect on her. I laughed at that. So other than those brief hiccups, the dialogue is smooth, he advances the plot some, there's some silly moments since this is supposed to be a fun road trip story, it works.

Evenhuis and Fotos continue to do a solid job on the art. There's a part on the first page where, as Wynonna is reminding Dolls (and us) of everything she's gone through, the panels are set up so that as she mentions Valdez, we see her at the bar in the background, but in the next panel, as she mentions Doc Holliday, Wynonna has begun to pace the room and so she's moved a bit, revealing Holliday was at the bar next to Valdez, but blocked from view in the first panel. Nothing particularly special about it, but I like how it's providing the information needed as needed, and Wynonna's pacing and gesturing felt natural, given how excitable she can get.

There's also the one-page flashback that tells how Valdez earned her tattoos. Fotos shifts from the mostly light, pleasant and bright colors used through the issue, to these deep reds and oranges. Appropriate for a page about a war that took place ages ago. The color scheme put me in mind of how Apokolips was presented in the '90s Superman cartoon, if that helps. And Evenhuis goes much heavier on the inks on that page, making for much starker shadows than normal. The first panel actually made me think of Mike Mignola, in how much shadows are used to suggest facial features. It's very effective for how much it stands out in the issue.

Atomic Robo: The Temple of Od #2, by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Anthony Clark (colorist), Jeff Powell (letterer/designer) - Robo, straighten out your helmet and goggles! Try to be knocked senseless with a little dignity!

So Robo and Helen are captured and taken to the secret research base. That's one way to get inside. Fortunately, the Ghost Bandits see an opportunity for massive profit and stage a surprise attack. Of course, they're the ones surprised once they encounter the Odic Force-powered Japanese soldiers, but it serves as a chance for Robo and Helen to elude their captors and find Dr. Lu. They find him, they escape, despite the doctor's pleas they destroy the lab first. The lab which contains a "reactor", which Lieutenant Ichiro claims is not a weapon at all. But Lu sure seems certain Japan will use what's in the lab to create hundreds of super-powered soldiers.

"One raid, three fortunes" is how the leader of the Ghost Bandits sells his men on the attack, and that is a pretty great rallying cry. I also liked his assessment during the battle: 'We're losing too many trucks. Also my hat. Retreat!' Hats are important. And Wegener draws them as having this cobbled together trucks with machine guns attached to the top and skulls painted on them, like a slightly more restrained Road Warrior gang or something. It's a good look.

The art is more variable than I can recall. There are some panels in the back half of this issue where Wegener goes very low on details for faces. Just a couple blank circles for eyes and maybe a couple lines to denote the mouth or nose. And then the page before or after, he'll have done some really excellent work. He and Anthony Clark combined for some of the best-looking stuff I've seen on Atomic Robo in this issue. There's one panel of Robo and Helen trapped under some rubble where the panel is very tight in one them and both the lighting effects and shadows (the light come from Robo's eyes), and the detail Wegener works into Helen's face are really outstanding.

There's also one panel that covers the progression of Robo fighting two of those super-soldiers simultaneously. Like there's four different snippets of the fight within a single panel, building up to the action in the next one. The work there is pretty detailed, nice uses of the green energy coming off their fists to guide the eye across the panel. I don't know if I've ever seen Wegener try that before in a fight scene. Maybe the more detailed pages put him behind schedule and he had to skimp a little on other pages.

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